2014 NFL Draft: Bleacher Report's Expert Consensus Predictions
Well, folks, it's finally "go time"!
Soon, Roger Goodell will step to the podium to kick off the 2014 NFL draft at Radio City Music Hall in New York City, though the wait was two weeks longer than usual. That extended period has afforded draftniks and fans an extra fortnight to speculate about how the three-day event could unfold.
Who will the Houston Texans take with the first overall pick? Will they trade down?
What about this year's top quarterback prospects? How many will be drafted in Round 1, and where will they land?
We gathered the national lead writers and division lead writers at Bleacher Report to answer those questions and more. Here's a look at their predictions for this year's draft.
Jadeveon Clowney, DE, South Carolina (12 votes)
There's been no shortage of buzz surrounding the Houston Texans and the first overall pick this year.
In fact, there's been quite a bit of talk regarding the Texans trading down on Thursday night, although team owner Bob McNair said no decisions have been made in that regard.
Speaking with Mark Berman of Fox 26 in Houston, McNair said, "Really at this point we don't know and we really won't know until right up at the time we have to make a decision because people are talking to us about the possibility of trading down and it's a question of what people offer, whether their offer is such that it's worthwhile to trade down."
With that said, however, whether the Texans make the pick themselves or trade it away, the overwhelming majority of our panel believes that South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney will be the first player to hear his name called in the 2014 draft.
NFL National Lead Writer Aaron Nagler, on the other hand, sides with Gil Brandt of NFL.com, who told Peter King of Sports Illustrated, "I think (Buffalo linebacker) Khalil Mack gets picked ahead of Jadeveon Clowney."
Others Receiving Votes: Mack (1 vote); Johnny Manziel, QB, Texas A&M (1 vote)
First Quarterback Selected
Johnny Manziel, Texas A&M (10 votes)
Our experts may not believe that Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel will be the first overall pick in 2014, but the mercurial scrambler is the runaway choice as the first signal-caller to be chosen.
In fact, according to Peter King, a new suitor may have emerged for the former Heisman Trophy winner's services:
Rams GM Les Snead recently went to Texas Tech and met at length with coach Kliff Kingsbury—Manziel’s offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach at A&M in 2012—and came away thinking Manziel could adjust to life well as an NFL passer. Does that mean the Rams will take Manziel if he’s there at 13? I am still dubious. But I can tell you the Rams like him a lot.
The only other player who garnered more than one vote was Central Florida's Blake Bortles, who was the pick of AFC West Lead Writer Christopher Hansen, NFC East Lead Writer Brad Gagnon and NFL National Lead Writer Dan Pompei.
Others Receiving Votes: Bortles (3 votes); Teddy Bridgewater, Louisville (1 vote)
Bryn Renner, QB, North Carolina (2 votes)
Just as someone has to be the first pick this year, someone has to be the last.
That pick, the 256th of the 2014 draft, belongs to the Houston Texans this year and carries with it the title of "Mr. Irrelevant."
Our panel went with any number of players at several positions on both sides of the ball, but only one youngster garnered multiple votes.
North Carolina quarterback Bryn Renner, who threw for 1,765 yards in seven games for the Tar Heels last year, was the pick of both NFC North Lead Writer Zach Kruse and NFL National Lead Writer Ty Schalter.
Rob Rang of CBS Sports wrote of the 6'3", 228-pounder, "His ball placement and on-field leadership need to be refined, but he'll look down the gun barrel and give his weapons a chance to make a play."
Others Receiving Votes: 12 players (1 vote each)
Blake Bortles, QB, Central Florida (3 votes)
Central Florida quarterback Blake Bortles has been one of the most talked-about prospects of the spring. Rob Rang of CBS Sports ranks the 6'5", 232-pounder sixth overall this year and first among quarterbacks.
Rang's colleague Dane Brugler compared Bortles to a "mix of Andrew Luck (Colts) and Jake Locker (Titans). Bortles has the arm strength and delivery that is reminiscent of Luck and also the mobility and some of the inconsistencies of Locker. Bortles projects to the NFL somewhere in the middle of those two players."
However, Mike Tanier of Sports on Earth cautions that an unfavorable landing spot could be Bortles' undoing:
Blake Bortles is a potential NFL starter and possible future NFL star. But he is a likely top-five pick because there are five teams that need quarterbacks at the top of the draft board. Bortles is just gifted enough to be a success story but just flawed enough to become more kindling in some franchise's bonfire of disappointment.
Our panel agrees, with three voters (including NFL National Lead Writer Mike Freeman) predicting that Bortles will be the biggest reach of the 2014 NFL draft.
Others Receiving Votes: Kelvin Benjamin, WR, Florida State (2 votes); Joel Bitonio, OT, Nevada (2 votes); 7 players (1 vote each)
Teddy Bridgewater, QB, Louisville (11 votes)
While Blake Bortles' draft stock has been steadily on the rise, Louisville quarterback Teddy Bridgewater's has taken a pounding of late.
A poor showing at the Cardinals' pro day kicked off a firestorm of criticism that has reached the point where Mike Mayock told NFL.com (via Michael David Smith of Pro Football Talk), “If I was a GM in the NFL, I would not take him in the first round of the draft.”
Mayock continued, saying:
I would say in general, tape is worth about 85 percent of an overall grade, and the rest of the process is set up for red flags, and to go back and watch more tape to try to confirm what you saw or didn’t see. I saw about four of his tapes prior to the combine, and I really liked him. I thought he had a chance to be a franchise quarterback from what I saw on the tape. . . . Except you’ve got to see the quarterbacks throw the ball live. I’ve never seen a top-level quarterback in the last 10 years have a bad pro day, until Teddy Bridgewater. He had no accuracy, the ball came out funny, the arm strength wasn’t there, and it made me question everything I saw on tape because this was live.
For his part, Ryan Wilson of CBSSports.com reports that Bridgewater responded to the recent criticisms by telling ESPN, "Put on the game tape."
It would appear our panel has sided with the young passer, as the vast majority of our experts believe a draft-day tumble will make Bridgewater 2014's biggest steal.
Others Receiving Votes: 3 players (1 vote each)
Number of Trades in Round 1
Five Trades (7 votes)
When the new collective bargaining agreement was signed back in 2011, it signaled the dawn of a new era where draft-day trades are concerned.
The Monty Hall era.
With the financial investment in first-round picks much less than it once was, NFL teams are much more likely to play "Let's Make a Deal" in an effort to move up or down in the first round.
Last year, seven first-round picks changed hands. One did twice.
Bleacher Report NFC East Lead Writer Brad Gagnon predicts seven trades again this year, the highest forecast from the panel.
NFL National Lead Writer Mike Freeman, on the other hand, doesn't forecast many phones ringing. None, in fact, with him predicting the big goose egg.
Half our experts looked for a handful of trades, which was far and away the most popular choice.
Others Receiving Votes: Six (3 votes); seven (1 vote); four (1 vote); three (1 vote); zero (1 vote)
Number of Quarterbacks Drafted in Round 1
Three Quarterbacks (9 votes)
It wasn't that long ago that many draftniks believed three quarterbacks could be drafted in the top five in 2014.
That still may well happen, but with Bridgewater's stock dropping, the number of passers who will be drafted on Thursday night is one of the hot-button questions in this year's draft.
NFL National Lead Writer Mike Freeman feels the bloom has come off the rose with this year's quarterbacks to the point that only two will be drafted in the first round.
Four writers, including Bleacher Report NFL National Lead Writer Michael Schottey, expect double that number.
However, three quarterbacks was the clear favorite, with NFC South Lead Writer Knox Bardeen one of nine voters who went that route.
Manziel and Bortles are probably the safest bets to go first, but after that, all bets are off.
Others Receiving Votes: Four (4 votes); two (1 vote)
Number of Wide Receivers Drafted in Round 1
Six Wide Receivers (6 votes)
If you're a fan of an NFL team in need of wide receiver help in 2014, rejoice—this is the year to be in the market for one.
From Clemson's Sammy Watkins to Mike Evans of Texas A&M, Odell Beckham Jr. of LSU and Oregon State's Brandin Cooks, the 2014 class at the wide receiver spot is as deep as it's been in recent memory.
This, of course, begs the question of just how many receivers we could see drafted on Thursday.
Our most conservative projection came from NFL National Lead Writer Michael Schottey, who forecast four wideouts will be selected in the first round.
The most popular belief, however, is that we'll see an even half-dozen receivers taken on the draft's first day.
Others Receiving Votes: Four (1 vote); five (5 votes); seven (2 votes)
Number of Running Backs Taken on Day 2
Three Running Backs (4 votes)
It's a fact of life in today's NFL: Running backs may be as important as ever on the gridiron, but with late-round backs like Alfred Morris of the Washington Redskins and Zac Stacy of the St. Louis Rams enjoying early success in recent years, the position doesn't hold the value in the draft that it once did.
For the first time in NFL history, no running backs went in the first round last year. The prevailing school of thought is that the same will hold true in 2014.
As ESPN's Jon Gruden told Hays Carlyon of Jacksonville.com, the "fall" of the running back is at least partly due to the rise of the spread offense: "When you look at the running backs in college football, you never know if they’re ever going to get the ball. The quarterback pulls it out of his stomach half the time and keeps it himself. It’s hard to evaluate them."
Still, some talented backs, such as Ohio State's Carlos Hyde and Tre Mason of Auburn, should start coming off the board in the second round.
In fact, NFL National Lead Writer Dan Pompei thinks the floodgates will open on the second day, with eight running backs going in the second and third rounds.
The outlook isn't as rosy from our other voters. Nine of the panel's 14 voters believe four or fewer running backs will be drafted on Day 2, with three running backs being the most popular prediction.
Others Receiving Votes: Two (2 votes); four (3 votes); five (2 votes); six (2 votes); eight (1 vote)
Last Man in the Green Room
Jimmy Garoppolo, QB, Eastern Illinois (5 votes)
This year, the NFL invited a record 30 players to the draft. It's an honor, but it can also be a double-edged sword.
After all, no young man wants this to happen.
The panel has selected five candidates who could see a Geno Smith-like slide into Day 2 that leaves one of them as the last man in the green room. Three of those candidates received four or more votes.
It's quite possible no receiver has risen in the draft as much as Latimer. He had solid production in college and has a great mix of size and speed to contribute for a number of clubs early on. He also is still recovering from a left foot injury that might continue to keep teams away from him on draft night without the chance to fully evaluate him before May 8.
Louisville quarterback Teddy Bridgewater also garnered four votes. But it was Eastern Illinois quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo who "won" this honor that no one wants.
Fischer wrote of Garoppolo, who topped 5,000 yards and 50 touchdowns last year, "Buzz continues to build around the quick release of Garoppolo, but he nevertheless was a surprising name to find on the list of quarterbacks invited to the draft."
Others Receiving Votes: Teddy Bridgewater, QB, Louisville (4 votes); Cody Latimer, WR, Indiana (4 votes); two players (1 vote)
College Conference with Most Round 1 Picks
SEC (14 votes)
Very few people would argue that the SEC is the best conference in college football. Until Auburn's January loss to Florida State, SEC teams had captured seven BCS championships in a row.
As such, it's hardly a surprise that every member of our panel picked the Southeastern Conference to place the most players in the first round of the 2014 NFL draft.
Of course, players like Jadeveon Clowney, Johnny Manziel, Greg Robinson, Jake Matthews, Dee Ford, Mike Evans, Ha Ha Clinton-Dix and Odell Beckham Jr. make it fairly easy call.
All are almost certainly first-rounders, and all hail from the SEC.
Will Colt Lyerla Be Drafted?
Yes (14 votes)
Were it only a matter of talent, Oregon tight end Colt Lyerla probably wouldn't make it out of Day 2, because Bucky Brooks of NFL.com reported he is the sort of field-stretching athlete who is very much in demand in today's NFL:
Lyerla is one of the hybrid tight-end-types that are currently taking the NFL by storm. He has the speed to blow past defenders on vertical routes and displays the short-area quickness and burst to run away from linebackers out of breaks. Additionally, Lyerla is an overpowering athlete capable of muscling smaller defensive backs at the top of routes to create separation. Factor in his strong hands and wide catching radius, and Lyerla is the kind of threat offensive coordinators love to feature in the game plan, especially on third down or in the red zone.
However, with Lyerla, there's a lot more to consider than just talent.
Add it all up, and there's some question as to whether he will be drafted at all.
With that said, every member of the panel believes that some NFL team will be too tempted by the 6'4", 242-pounder's athletic prowess by Day 3 to pass him up.
Will Teddy Bridgewater Be Drafted in Round 1?
Yes (11 votes)
Heading into the 2013 college football season, Teddy Bridgewater was one of the leading contenders to be the first overall pick in the 2014 NFL draft. Now, after his substandard pro day and weeks of being taken to task by some draftniks, it's a toss-up in many eyes whether he will be drafted in the first round at all.
We mentioned earlier in this slideshow that Mike Mayock doesn't think Bridgewater merits a first-round pick.
Despite the fact that Mel Kiper Jr. has Bridgewater as his top-rated signal-caller, he agrees that Bridgewater could drop to Day 2 (Insider access required):
Let me be clear: This is the top-rated quarterback on my Big Board, a player I have rated higher than Bortles, Manziel or Carr. (It's very close on the top three, however.) But my reading of the tea leaves in speaking with many evaluators around the league is that Bridgewater could drop if he slides past a couple of points early on.
However, others aren't buying Bridgewater's slide. That includes Doug Farrar of Sports Illustrated, who ranks the QB as this year's top overall prospect:
Is Bridgewater the perfect collegiate quarterback? No. There are clearly things he needs to work on, which is true of just about every quarterback prospect. But when it comes to combining innate skills and developmental potential in an NFL view, it’s hard for me to put anyone above Bridgewater. He already has a lot on the ball, and with time and patience, he could be the kind of quarterback that defines a franchise.
Bleacher Report NFL National Lead Writer Matt Miller also ranks Bridgewater as this year's top quarterback, and Miller is among the large majority of our panel that feels that Bridgewater won't fall past pick No. 32.
Will Johnny Manziel Be a Top-Five Overall Pick?
No (8 votes)
Unlike with Teddy Bridgewater, there's very little chance that Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel will fall out of the first round of the 2014 NFL draft.
In fact, ESPN's Chris Mortensen reported earlier this week that he expects Manziel will last no longer than Cleveland's fourth overall pick (h/t NFL Spin Zone's Ernie Padaon).
It's a close call, but our panel isn't buying it.
Eight of the 14 voters, including Bleacher Report NFC West Lead Writer Tyson Langland, believe that Johnny Football will slide from the top five, even if it isn't by much.
Jadeveon Clowney Goes To...
Houston Texans (or Trade Partner): 12 votes
Had Jadeveon Clowney built on the momentum that he established with a dominant sophomore season that ended with this hit, we would not be having this conversation.
Still, even after a disappointing junior year that raised questions about his work ethic, given that he was the panel's choice as this year's first overall pick, it's not really a surprise that the majority of our experts picked the Houston Texans as his new home.
Well, sort of.
Five of the 12 votes the Texans received included the caveat that Houston might deal the pick. In fact, Bleacher Report NFC West Lead Writer Tyson Langland has a specific trade partner in mind, forecasting a deal between the Texans and Atlanta Falcons.
In any event, the writers at Bleacher Report don't see a long wait for Clowney in the green room, with the "dissenting" voters (NFL National Lead Writers Michael Schottey and Aaron Nagler) predicting the Jacksonville Jaguars will draft Clowney third overall.
Others Receiving Votes: Jacksonville Jaguars (2 votes)
Johnny Manziel Goes To...
Cleveland Browns (4 votes)
On some level, it may seem odd that the panel predicts Johnny Manziel will land in Cleveland, especially given that we just predicted the electrifying quarterback would fall from the top five.
However, it isn't when you consider the number of other candidates who were suggested by the panel. Both the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Minnesota Vikings came in with just one fewer vote than the Browns, and the Tennessee Titans and Dallas Cowboys combined for three more.
Still, with rumors swirling regarding the Browns' interest in Manziel, Bleacher Report AFC North Lead Writer Andrea Hangst is among the quartet of writers who expect Manziel to begin his NFL career on the shores of Lake Erie.
It's a pick that Tom Reed of the Northeast Ohio Media Group believes the Browns may live to regret:
From a strictly selfish standpoint, I want the Browns to select a quarterback with the No. 4 overall pick in the 2014 NFL Draft. I want his name to be Johnny Manziel. ...
...Alas, I cannot endorse this fantasy. The Browns should draft a quarterback with one of their first three picks, but none of them makes sense at No. 4. It would be a selection based more on hope than sound rationale.
Others Receiving Votes: Minnesota Vikings (3 votes); Tampa Bay Buccaneers (3 votes); Tennessee Titans (2 votes); Dallas Cowboys (1 vote); Houston Texans (1 vote)
Khalil Mack Goes To...
Jacksonville Jaguars (9 votes)
At the beginning of the 2013 season, Buffalo linebacker Khalil Mack was just another defensive player who was toiling away in the relative anonymity of the MAC.
Now, after racking up 100 tackles and 10.5 sacks for the Bulls, he is almost universally regarded as a top-five pick in this year's draft.
In fact, only two of Bleacher Report's lead writers (Matt Miller and Ty Schalter) think the 6'3", 251-pounder will slip as far as sixth overall to the Atlanta Falcons.
However, the majority of our voters look for Mack, who is the top overall player on the "big board" of NFL Network's Mike Mayock, to go to the Jacksonville Jaguars at third overall.
Mayock's colleague Daniel Jeremiah agrees, writing, "This decision will probably come down to Mack and (Sammy) Watkins. They can’t go wrong with either player."
Others Receiving Votes: Atlanta Falcons (2 votes); Oakland Raiders (2 votes); Houston Texans (1 vote)
Teddy Bridgewater Goes To...
Jacksonville Jaguars (5 votes)
If things play out like our experts predict, this is going to be a very successful draft for Dave Caldwell, Gus Bradley and the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Not only does the panel think the team will obtain Mack, whom some consider this year's top defensive prospect, but they believe that the draft-day slide for Teddy Bridgewater will open the door for Jacksonville to also snare the player whom some consider this year's top-ranked signal-caller.
It's a pick that Bleacher Report's Chris Roling believes makes a lot of sense: "Regardless of what comes of the journey, the Jaguars and Bridgewater are a perfect marriage. Jacksonville needs a franchise-changing player, and by all accounts, the ultra-driven Bridgewater would be bored on a successful team anyway."
Bleacher Report NFL National Lead Writer Aaron Nagler thinks the Jaguars will need to trade up into the back end of Round 1 to pull this off, but with 11 picks in this year's draft, the Jaguars have the capital to be movers and shakers this year if they so choose.
Others Receiving Votes: Houston Texans (3 votes); Minnesota Vikings (3 votes); Cleveland Browns (2 votes); Tennessee Titans (1 vote)
Blake Bortles Goes To...
Minnesota Vikings (5 votes)
In recent weeks, there's been more than a little speculation linking this year's top quarterbacks to the Minnesota Vikings.
It's not hard to see why, given the parade of pitiful QBs the Vikings trotted out at the position last year.
Rob Rang of CBS Sports predicts that the Vikes will settle on Central Florida's Blake Bortles:
With serviceable veterans in re-signed veteran Matt Cassel and former first-round pick Christian Ponder on the roster, the Vikings don't have to take a quarterback with the No. 8 overall pick and might view Pittsburgh DT Aaron Donald as another John Randle. Should Bortles, who many believe has the highest upside of the 2014 class, slip to this spot, the Vikings could find the ideal fit in offensive coordinator Norv Turner's scheme.
Our panel agrees that Bortles' big arm would be a fine fit in Turner's vertical offense, with Bleacher Report NFC South Lead Writer Knox Bardeen spearheading a group of five writers who think Bortles is headed north.
Others Receiving Votes: Cleveland Browns (3 votes); Arizona Cardinals (3 votes); Oakland Raiders (2 votes); Houston Texans (1 vote)
Derek Carr Goes To...
Oakland Raiders (7 votes)
With all due respect to the recently acquired Matt Schaub, the future under center for the Oakland Raiders still looks pretty shaky.
With the fifth pick in this year's draft, there's been no shortage of speculation connecting the Raiders to this year's top quarterbacks.
However, Vic Tafur of The San Francisco Chronicle recently reported that "sources say the Raiders aren't really considering drafting Manziel or Bortles at No. 5."
Still, general manager Reggie McKenzie said he's "open to everything," so perhaps the Raiders can have their cake and eat it, too.
John Clayton of ESPN recently wrote that "four or five" NFL teams told Fresno State quarterback Derek Carr they'd like to trade into the 20s to select the 6'2", 214-pounder.
Our panel appears to smell some wheeling and dealing in the water, with half the voters looking for Carr to head up the California coast to join the Silver and Black.
Others Receiving Votes: Cleveland Browns (4 votes); Arizona Cardinals (3 votes)
Sammy Watkins Goes To...
St. Louis Rams (6 votes)
Clemson's Sammy Watkins is almost universally considered the top wide receiver in this year's draft. Rob Rang of CBS Sports compared him to a "mix of Torrey Smith (Ravens) and Percy Harvin (Seahawks)."
"Watkins has the size and vertical ability of Smith and the acceleration," Rang wrote, "and toughness and multiple gears like Harvin."
With Watkins believed to be one of this year's "safest" top picks, just about every team that is picking near the top of the draft has been linked to Watkins at one time or another.
Still, the St. Louis Rams are a relatively recent addition to the sweepstakes. However, as Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports, "Despite all the signals from Rams Park about standing pat at wide receiver — including some public statements by coach Jeff Fisher and general manager Les Snead — it’s believed there are some in the building who would like to take Watkins."
The panel sees those tea leaves as an indicator the Rams are set to invest yet another early pick on a receiver, with St. Louis garnering twice as many votes as any other team.
Others Receiving Votes: Cleveland Browns (3 votes); Oakland Raiders (3 votes); Detroit Lions (1 vote); Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1 vote)
Eric Ebron Goes To...
New York Giants (8 votes)
Eric Ebron is the top tight end prospect of 2014. Dane Brugler of CBS Sports called him a "smooth, gliding athlete with easy acceleration to speed past defenders in coverage and finish." As one of the new breed of field-stretching tight ends, he is sure to draw draft-day interest from a number of NFL teams.
Apparently, most of them are in New York.
With the exception of Bleacher Report NFL National Lead Writer Michael Schottey, who sees Ebron headed to Detroit, every member of the panel predicted that Ebron would soon be plying his trade in the Empire State.
For most of them, that means the Big Apple and the New York Giants.
Brugler's colleague Rob Rang agrees:
The Giants are looking for better protection and big play targets for Eli Manning and could see Ebron as capable of helping in both areas. With new offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo expected to feature the position in his attack, Ebron's athleticism could make him an instant hit.
Others Receiving Votes: New York Jets (3 votes); Buffalo Bills (2 votes); Detroit Lions (1 vote)
Carlos Hyde Goes To...
Tennessee Titans (5 votes)
Running backs may have seen their value decrease in recent years, but someone still has to be No. 1.
For most draftniks this year, that's Ohio State's Carlos Hyde. The 230-pound bruiser topped 1,500 yards on the ground last year, and scout Andrew Garda touted his physicality:
Hyde is a big, thick, bruising running back who will lower his pads and hammer through a hole (or through someone blocking a hole). He keeps his legs churning after contact, shows great balance and footwork through trash and will stay on his feet even with tacklers trying to drag him down. Hyde has a real “can’t stop/won’t stop” attitude which makes him very effective in goal-line and short yardage situations. His brutal running style will wear a defensive front down, so he gets better as a game goes on.
With Hyde being a probable Day 2 pick, there are several candidates to acquire his services. Seven teams were the pick of at least one of Bleacher Report's writers.
However, only three teams received multiple votes. The Tennessee Titans, who have a hole at running back with the departure of Chris Johnson, received the most with five, including from Bleacher Report NFL National Lead Writer Dan Pompei.
Others Receiving Votes: Baltimore Ravens (3 votes); Cincinnati Bengals (2 votes); four teams (1 vote each)
AJ McCarron Goes To...
Green Bay Packers (4 votes)
Alabama's AJ McCarron is one of the most successful quarterbacks in the history of college football. During his time in Tuscaloosa, the Crimson Tide won three national championships. He was the starter under center for two of them.
If the panel is correct, he may not win a game in the NFL for a while.
With the Green Bay Packers finding out the hard way last year how quickly things can go south if Aaron Rodgers gets hurt, four voters (including AFC West Lead Writer Christopher Hansen) expect the Pack to invest a mid-round pick in McCarron.
In fact, 50 percent of the panel thinks McCarron will cut his teeth in the NFL behind a future Hall of Famer. Three more writers picked the New England Patriots (and Tom Brady) to be McCarron's first NFL home.
Others Receiving Votes: Minnesota Vikings (3 votes); New England Patriots (3 votes); four teams (1 vote)
Michael Sam Goes To...
Tie: Green Bay Packers/New England Patriots (4 votes each)
Since his personal revelation earlier this year, things have been quiet on Missouri defensive end Michael Sam's front.
That's not necessarily a good thing. He struggled badly as a linebacker in workouts, so much so that seven of 21 scouts recently polled by Bob McGinn of The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel said they wouldn't draft Sam at all.
Still, whether it's via a Day 3 pick or as an undrafted free agent, someone's going to sign the 2013 SEC Defensive Player of the Year.
Our panel believes it will be one of the NFL's more stable franchises, with the Green Bay Packers and New England Patriots earning four votes apiece.
Neither team is going to tolerate any locker-room nonsense with regard to Sam's homosexuality, but the better fit from a football perspective would appear to lie in Beantown with the Patriots, where Sam could use some of his skills as a down lineman in an "Elephant" pass-rusher role.
Others Receiving Votes: San Diego Chargers (2 votes); four teams (1 vote each)